The room is peaceful, with blues music and scratches setting the mood. Pencils, pastel crayons and paint brushes stroke across paper as 17 artists, arranged in a circle, all strive to capture the same image in their own way. Atop a small bench in the center sits the subject, a dance instructor in workout clothes, looking upward.
There are some artists who emphasize her upswept hair and prominent features. Others sketch her body and limbs, using either definite, precise lines or faint strokes augmented by shading. A Crystal Lake painter has chosen to superimpose watercolor outlines of the model's various poses across one page, creating the illusion of movement. During the group's weekly meetings, she has a chance to brush up on new techniques and figure drawing, as the rest of her time is devoted to landscape paintings.
While it is natural to associate musicians with practice, she says most cannot draw an association between artists and the same. Studying her painting, the artist says she really likes how it turned out. Greatness in art comes in waves, and a portrait that speaks to the viewer through the captured moment of the subject can be a product of either long study or random success in a practice session.
Returning two years ago from a twenty year absence while stuck in the business world is another female artist, who takes portraits as her preferred form. She holds portraits above other painting modes. For her, these paintings are about understanding and then translating an expression onto canvas. Using what most would consider clashing color combinations of dark green, blue, yellow and white she is able to capture the regalness of the model.
The artist knows that the face is more than colors. In addition, the artist takes into account the effect of lighting on tone, cool ones like blues and greens and warm ones like yellows and whites. She says that Renoir used color like that, and it's something she has always wanted to do, too. In commissioned work, there are two methods, which are live sittings and photographs. Personality is best painted when experienced, but the photograph serves for convenience. The artist who can adequately capture any personality on canvas is truly great. The difficulty lies in the fleeting nature of personality. For her, paintings are not photographs taken just for likeness. The inner person must be captured in order to render a great painting, which she is able to do.
Another technique in portraiture is being able to accommodate the requests of the patron while staying true to one's own artistic leanings. With bright colors, the portrait looks even better.